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Old 03-13-2012, 11:55 AM   #1
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Arrow What? A Behavior Modification Study Aimed At Reducing Angler Participation

Recreational Fishing Alliance News 3-13-12


Behavior Modification Study Aimed At Reducing Angler Participation

What would you be willing to give up in exchange for $500?

If the U.S. Department of Education offered you $500 to keep your kid out of school for a few weeks, would you take it? What if the government explained that this was simply a study designed to determine exactly how much you felt your child's education was worth? Would the results of such a study encourage your support for such behavior modification analysis?

How about if the Department of Health offered you $500 to give up coffee with sugar for one month? Or, what about a government-funded study where random voters are given the option of accepting $500 in exchange for their right to vote in November? Would you accept a $500 check to read only certain types of books or download specific kinds of songs?

If you think about it, such 'willingness-to-pay' research could prove invaluable in providing our state and federal government agencies with important data about the financial line which Americans are willing to cross in exchange for valuable goods, services, rights & privileges. Sociologists love this type of data, and it's arguably an excellent way to determine a financial threshold for changing behavioral habits of American citizens.

The problem that most Americans have with studies like these is that it's social engineering at U.S. taxpayer expense. This type of behavior modification might be fine for a grad student working on some Ivy League college campus, but the thought that our own government would freely support such 'willingness to pay' studies through taxpayer funds is one that liberals and conservatives alike should each find quite troubling.

Regrettably, our government is actively engaged in just this type of behavior modification study, whereby Massachusetts anglers are being asked to accept $500 in taxpayer funds to give up their right to fish recreational in marine waters there for the rest of 2012. The obvious question is how on earth our Department of Commerce can justify paying Americans to stay at home and not spend their money on items of commerce, notably sportfishing in Massachusetts?

In any other American business, this type of government action would be met with quite a bit of disdain and discomfort, worthy of national headlines - for our recreational fishing industry however, it's just another one of a thousand cuts felt by local business people every single day of the year.

Here's what we do know; NOAA Fisheries and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) which is managed under the auspice of the Department of Commerce, is currently undertaking a socioeconomic study in conjunction with the state of Massachusetts whereby approximately 700 saltwater anglers have been offered cash in exchange for the anglers' willingness to give up his/her right to fish. Those licensed Massachusetts anglers who accept the offer will receive up to $500 apiece following their willingness to give up their fishing license and all rights to fish in state coastal waters in 2012.

In a recent conference call with stakeholders, NOAA Fisheries explained that approximately 25% of those 700 anglers had responded favorably by agreeing to give up their right to fish in 2012 in exchange for cold, hard cash. In agreeing to accept the government's terms, these particular Massachusetts residents are agreeing to not fish this season, which means no need to visit the local tackle shop, giving up any charter/headboat trips this summer and making plans other than those surrounding a saltwater angling trip with family and friends.

If NOAA Fisheries' estimates are correct, 175 respondents will actually be giving up their right to fish in saltwater this season. According to socioeconomic data on saltwater angling habits that already exists through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service however, the final economic impact within the Massachusetts coastal fishing community amounts to approximately $201,425 in overall consumer spending.

For anglers 16 and older, total trip and equipment expenditures by saltwater anglers averages about $1,151 per person, with $219 spent annually on food & lodging, $137 on transportation expenses, and $795 per angler directly related to fishing equipment and services. It doesn't take too long to figure out that if dad is spending over a thousand bucks a year on fishing for fluke, cod, sea bass or other inshore species, if he sells off his 'fishing privileges' for the season then he's probably not taking the teens and pre-teens on a fishing vacation in 2012 - which means there's more economic loss than even the statistics show.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service's data indicates that there are approximately 298,000 saltwater anglers in the state of Massachusetts who in 2006 spent more than $494.6 million on saltwater fishing tackle alone. Approximately 69% of those anglers fished by boat in 2006, meaning that there is also money being spent on boat preparation and docking, fuel, and other services related to the marine industry. If nearly 70% of those 175 respondents and their families keep their boat under wraps in 2012 to take advantage of the government's recreational fisherman buyout study - that too will have a trickle down financial impact within the Massachusetts coastal community.

At a time when our Department of Commerce and the entire Obama Administration should be helping spur economic growth in America, it's hard to fathom how the sociologists and economists at NOAA Fisheries can justify such a deplorable study in behavior modification theory. It's essentially the counter-opposite to a federal stimulus package, one which is micromanaged at a state and regional level to see what happens to businesses when customers are lured away to other pursuits.

Spending priceless taxpayer dollars on ways of limiting consumer spending in beleaguered coastal communities is the worst kind of social engineering one could possibly imagine, and it provides a perfect example of why this Administration's jobs initiatives have failed miserably.

Are you tired of NOAA Fisheries paying $$$ to anglers to not fish, instead of applying these important taxpayer funds towards proper fisheries science and data collection improvements? On Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at noon, several thousand fishermen from around the country will be at Upper Senate Park in Washington DC in support of legislative efforts which would ensure that NOAA Fisheries is living up to its Congressional mandates to fix the recreational data collection.

Join the RFA on 3-21-12 - for details, visit www.keepfishermenfishing.com. Or, call 888-564-6732.

About Recreational Fishing Alliance
The Recreational Fishing Alliance is a national, grassroots political action organization representing recreational fishermen and the recreational fishing industry on marine fisheries issues. The RFA Mission is to safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers, protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs, and ensure the long-term sustainability of our Nation's saltwater fisheries. If you'd like to tell Washington that your right to fish is NOT FOR SALE, join RFA now at www.joinrfa.org.
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